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A wild tangle of curls ran all over my head like jungle vines. I looked in the mirror and realized what I'd been depriving myself of for so long. Since that day, I have become the liberal parent of softened curls and untamed tangles. I discovered why I'd maintained my hair with hairspray and cries for perfection. Hair is what defines a person. Bozo the Clown, MC Hammer, Cher, A Flock of Seagulls, the guy from Seinfeld, and every arena band of the 1980s had all realized it before me: hair is the tool by which we mortals express what is valuable to us. It is the part of our body that is closest to the heavens, the blanket that protects our scalps from pounding rain and fierce sunlight. It can scream of despite for society or whisper of grace and beauty.

I had long been one to mock the extreme hairstyles of various generations. The "beehive" of the 1960s seemed only practical if the excess hair was used as a nest for endangered birds. The matted hair of Bob Marley aspirers, I assumed, served as a science experiment. This mockery sprung from the fact that I had yet to experience the freedom of doing with my hair whatever I wanted. I was my greatest roadblock. Always picky with my hair, I never dreamed of letting one single hair out of line; all strands met in a low bun on the back of my head. Then came the day of rebellion.

I let my hair fly free in the moist, salty air on a La Jolla beach. When dry, my hair was curly...very curly. I went 14 years without knowing my hair. Therefore, I plead with you: never neglect your precious head. Don't comb every single hair in the same place every day. See what's possible when you part your hair to the right instead of the left. When you take that less-traveled road, you may find a nice little oasis. -- Mary Lindquist, El Capitan H.S.

Hair can complement a person's personality perfectly. With one look at a friend of mine, you can guess that he's got an obnoxious, flirty, and funny personality that reflects his curly orange 'fro. He'll come into our group of girls, casually throw his arms over two girls' shoulders, crack a pick-up line, and flash a smile; his unconventional hair fits in with the package. A few weeks ago, I walked to lunch and got a shocking surprise. My friend's hair was straight and almost reached his shoulders. At first I didn't recognize him, but when he said one of his corny pickup lines, I knew it was him. He explained how it took nearly an hour to tame his frizzy-curly hair. The straight hair didn't work on him, and before long I noticed his personality seemed different. He came off as more serious, calm, and considerate. It didn't fit. When I saw him the next day, back with his frizzy 'fro came his familiar personality. It was somewhat of a relief.

Before long, my best friend started to get tired of her hair, too, and she decided she wanted a change. Soon she will be trying out a new look: purple streaks in her brown hair. She'll use a temporary washout-after-a-week product, however.

I've noticed more and more people want hair they don't have; people with straight brown hair want curly blond hair and vice versa. People should keep one thing in mind, though: make sure your hair matches with your personality. -- Bryanna Schwartz, Westview H.S.

My ten-year-old brother Luke has long blond hair that falls to his collarbone. As he always has baseball practice or somewhere to run off to, he never washes his hair as often as he should. I offered to pay him $20 if he would cut his hair, but he refused! My parents feel lucky that he has not rebelled in more extreme ways. Although, the other day, my mom told Luke his hair was so greasy she could use it to make popcorn! A day later, we persuaded him to cut his hair in exchange for a Star Wars Lego he wanted. Like my brother, my friend's older sister Rose has a unique hairstyle. She has gorgeous wavy blond hair that falls down to mid-calf. Yes, that is almost four feet of hair! She reminds me of Rapunzel because her hair is so long and she has it in a braid to keep it from getting tangled. In all my life, I've never seen anyone with hair that long...well, except at Disneyland, but that character must have had a wig on!

A guy in my class had an awful hairdo last year. He shaved his brown hair into a mohawk. That looked all right, but then, in a fit of what could have only been insanity, he bleached the mohawk part of his hair a yellow color that I'm pretty sure looks good on nobody. To make matters worse, he stopped spiking his mohawk and left it limp on his head. People laughed because it looked like a sick ferret had crawled on top of his head and died.

From these three individuals I have learned a valuable lesson: only a few people can pull off unique hairstyles and make them look pretty. So, unless you are going for the circus-escapee look, I recommend looking for a less extreme way to express yourself. -- Emma Seemann, Carlsbad H.S.

My lousiest haircut? I am sad to say that it is the infamous bowl cut, circa 1999, which was right around the sixth grade. Although no bowl was involved in the hair-cutting process, it sure looked like one had been: straight across, no mercy. In addition, I parted it down the middle, dead center. I don't know what I was thinking. I most likely wasn't thinking. My only excuse was that I was young and foolish. Currently, I wear my hair in a "faux hawk"; not cut like a mohawk, but styled like one, with adequate amounts of gel. A real mohawk, with shaved head on either side, is a bit too rebellious/troublemaker for me. I like my current hairstyle, but I know for a fact that one day I will look at pictures of myself from this time and wish that I could commit suicide. This is a haircut that I will definitely regret. But, in the meantime, I'm lovin' it.

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